Allison Parrish

Allison Parrish is a computer programmer, poet, educator and game designer who lives in Brooklyn. Her teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet. Her best known work is @everyword, a Twitter bot that (starting in 2007, and ending in 2014) tweeted every word in the English language, attracting over 100,000 followers along the way.

Allison is currently the Digital Creative Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University and an adjunct professor at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she teaches a course on writing computer programs that generate poetry.

Session: Exploring (Semantic) Space with (Literal) Robots

In the boundless churning sea of language's combinatorial possibilities, we cling fast to what "makes sense." Outside the comfortable lifeboat of "sense" we see nothing but "nonsense"—letters, words, and sentences in hazardous configurations that we don't recognize and can't decipher. But what's out there, really? We build physical robots to explore physical spaces considered inhospitable to the human body, so why not build "literal" robots to explore semantic spaces considered inhospitable to the human mind? (I mean the word "literal" here in its most, ahem, literal sense: having to do letters, words, and language.) I'm going to talk what I've learned in my practice as a procedural poet, designing software systems that create, well, nonsense. I like to think of these computer programs as automated probes that send back telemetry from the frontiers of "sense," exposing us to previously unforeseen possibilities for how words can behave, and allowing us to establish way stations in regions of language previously thought uninhabitable.